Featured Alumni

Performance Backed: Entrepreneurship Grown at Severn

For many Severn students, the Van Eney ‘09 Fellows Program is a way to go beyond the traditional academic program and pursue and showcase a passion project, carefully cultivated over the course of the school year. For Daniel Berlin ‘22, it was the perfect way to springboard his budding business idea into a fully realized business model with the means and connections to fully launch after graduation.  
Berlin, a freshman at Babson College (renowned for their focus on entrepreneurship) in Wellesley, MA, is now well into his 2nd year of growing his business, Performance Backed. Performance Backed is a sports nutrition company dedicated to empowering athletes of all levels to achieve their best by providing innovative and high-performing supplements. The idea for Performance Backed was carefully developed over time by Berlin, came to fruition during his senior year at Severn through the Fellows Program, and is growing at a rapid pace, setting Performance Backed up for future success.  
Born out of necessity 

An athlete throughout his younger years – Berlin played basketball in middle school through his junior year at Severn -- he stayed active at Severn by biking, running, and working out. While looking for a supplement that would help his muscles recover from exercise, he couldn’t find a product that fit exactly what he was looking for. “After reading the ingredients on some of these products, I realized I basically bought a bunch of worthless ingredients,” said Berlin. “There was no supplement made with effective ingredients that addressed all aspects of recovery for athletes.”  

Interested in business from a young age and searching for something that he could start himself, the idea of starting a sports nutrition company appealed to Berlin. It also happened to coincide with applications for the Fellows Program, with fellows selected through an application process in the spring of their junior year and work on their projects continuing throughout their senior year. “Although it was a project, I knew in my head that I would turn it into a real business after I graduated,” said Berlin. With his project approved, Berlin was ready to soak up as much knowledge and information as possible over the course of his senior year, while also doing copious amounts of research.  
Drawing from the Severn resource well 

Even while balancing a rigorous academic schedule his senior year, Berlin threw himself into his Fellows project, knowing that the work he put in would be helpful in the long run. He conducted market research to determine who would buy what he was selling, and developed the ingredient formula for his first product, called Complete Recovery. He also worked on developing the overall branding, established financial goals and forecasting, and learned as much as he could about business through his Fellows mentors: Dr. Aegina Martin (Upper School Science Department Chair), Mr. Mike Fennell (Severn Accounting Manager), and alumni Jay Manickam ‘92 and Blake Nolan ‘95.  

Berlin credits his Fellows mentors and Severn faculty for their willingness to listen, discuss business strategy, and their encouragement of his project, knowing that for him, this project had life beyond Severn’s campus. One mentor that he felt helped him not only with his project, but gave sound advice about his college decision, was Dr. Martin. “She really developed my passion for biology,” said Berlin. “She also offered me very strong advice when I was having trouble choosing between colleges.” Babson is where Berlin eventually decided on, drawn to their strong focus on entrepreneurship and the flexibility to take classes while working on his own business at the same time.
Not your typical college student 

There is a full plate, and then there are the multiple plates Berlin is spinning as a full-time college student who is also building his own business and launching his first product. Berlin attends classes that are business-focused, with the goal of learning as much as he can about the different aspects of owning, running, and growing your own business. “This year I’ve taken accounting, business law, and business analytics,” said Berlin. “They’ve been very interesting and extremely applicable to understand my business better.” He also lauded Babson not just for their course load, but for the different groups, clubs, and even housing situations that help students connect with other like-minded students, where they can learn from each other in an environment that fosters their passion for entrepreneurship.  

When he isn’t attending classes or completing coursework, Berlin is completely focused on Performance Backed. His first product, Complete Recovery, is an all-in-one exercise recovery, joint and sleep formula that supports muscle recovery, joint health and mobility, and relaxation and sleep quality. Complete Recovery launched in February of this year, an exciting time for Berlin. “The goal was to target every aspect of a full recovery,” said Berlin. “It’s made for everyday athletes, whether you run, walk, swim, do Crossfit, yoga, etc. There really is no other product like it out there.”  

Berlin has always had the full support of the faculty and staff at Severn, including boys basketball Head Coach Mike Glasby. Even though Berlin did not play basketball his senior year, he made an impression on Glasby from his time on the team. “Daniel was always a resourceful kid,” said Glasby. “He was able to take certain messaging from sports and translated that messaging to real life applications.” Glasby also mentioned Berlin’s ability to make connections with his teammates, something he knows will be valuable for his business going forward. “I think that from being a part of the basketball team he learned the importance of networking and teambuilding,” said Glasby, “and being able to maximize the opportunities that are in front you.” 
Looking ahead 

While Berlin has more than enough to keep him busy at present -- with the recent launch of his first product and finishing up his first year at Babson -- he is excited about what is to come for Performance Backed. Through it all, he still draws on the skills he learned while at Severn. Besides tangible skills such as math and science, he is grateful for the intangibles as well. “At Severn, I learned how to be a leader and active community member, which has helped me build strong professional relationships with my mentors, vendors, and partners,” said Berlin. “I imagine as I grow Performance Backed and grow a team around me those skills will be even more important.” 

For more information about his product Complete Recovery and to learn more about Performance Backed, visit and on Instagram at @PerformanceBacked.  

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